Kennedy: Sox talk ‘a lot' about contract extensions for young stars


BOSTON -- Nothing should bring Red Sox fans more optimism than looking at an outfield of Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mookie Betts on Opening Day. Throw in Xander Bogaerts, and the Red Sox look set for years

Many, many years possibly, if the Sox shell out some big bucks to lock the kids up -- and maybe find a way to save a few bucks along the way.

Speaking to CSNNE on the Baseball Show podcast, Sox president Sam Kennedy made clear the Red Sox have been thinking hard about the best way to approach their young stars' contract situations, including the possibility of extensions.
Money for Mookie? Bread for Bradley? Kennedy wants to keep this group together.

"I would just say, without going into specifics, it's something that we talk about a lot," Kennedy said. "Now, there's been a lot of discussion, but I wouldn't want to go beyond that. But it's important, again as I talk about chess not checkers: you want to be thinking long term while having short-term success. So there's been discussions, but I'll stop short of saying anything beyond that.

"Those are ultimately decisions that [president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski] is making with respect to the player's abilities. ... Then we all sort of chime in on what the financial impacts would be on the franchise."

The people at the table include Kennedy, Dombrowski, assistant general manager and contracts expert Brian O'Halloran, plus  chief financial officer Tim Zue. Eventually, ownership gets involved too.

Baseball operations people don't go it alone when it comes to the valuation of players. Kennedy referred to Zue as "our Godfather of business analytics."

"First of all, I hope we can keep this core of players together for a long, long time," he said. "Sometimes the reality around economics of baseball make that impossible, but we'll see how it goes. But there's a desire from John Henry, Tom Werner, on down, to keep this group together. What an exciting time for Red Sox fans: you look at our outfield, you look at this young core of players that our scouting and player development get all the credit for. They've done a phenomenal, phenomenal job.

"I do think given the resources that we have, we should be able to retain our homegrown talent and players that we have. Now, again, I don't want to state that categorically. Because down the road, you don't know what's going to happen, things could change. But there is a desire."

The business side uses analytics more than the baseball side of the operation, just without the public's attention. Zue has worked closely with the Sox' leading baseball ops analytics boss, Zack Scott.

From determining the best time to start games, on down to concessions prices and the secondary ticket markets, the Sox mine data for it all.

What was that about chess and checkers?

"How to sort of think strategically, how to play not chess not checkers, think about what's coming down the line in 2018, 19, 20," Kennedy said. "I think we have the ability at sort of my level as the president of the team and dealing at the ownership level, looking sort of longer term.

"We do want to win tonight. We want to win in the next five minutes. But we also want to win long term. And so that's a real, that's an inherent conflict. Because it's very hard to do both."

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